New Ink!

It’s been an interesting couple of days around here. Granddaughter Cait showed up with the first copy of LIGHT THE HIDDEN THINGS from Raven’s Call Press. It’s always exciting to hold a new book. As much as I admire the ebooks, I’m still a big fan of real ink on real paper. One of the best things about a conventional (if you will) book is the cover. I think Cait and the young woman who put ours together sent it out of the park. Like any author, I work hard to produce the best work I can. It only stands to reason I want it presented to the reader in the best possible light. I think they pulled it off. We’ll have a better idea of that come publishing date, which we expect will be around the end of May. (I have to laugh at that “end of May” thing. On the  carnival lot they spoke of “first of May-ers.” Those were the people who turned up for jobs when the shows hit the road for the season. Some folks would be surprised by the number of similarities between being a carny and a writer. Others wouldn’t.) Anyhow, the cover – and the entire book – are just about ready for the public. It’s an important realization for any writer. We like to think our theme, presented either in electrons or ink, has significance to those who read our pages. No matter how deeply you feel about that theme, however, our first responsibility is to engage the reader. Not necessarily entertain. We’re not show biz. But the story has to pull the reader into the world we’re creating. Sometimes we kid ourselves that the message is so important it’ll carry a weak story. The exact opposite is true; if you want people to hear your song, sing loud and sing well. You can’t kid the public. Story is what we do, or else we fail. There’s no middle ground.

So it’s time for an adventure, something new. I know other writers have experienced the same thing. For that matter, every time we type 1 on that first page, we’re off in a current that started somewhere back yonder and is already racing us downstream to a place we’re not absolutely certain is there. It’s a grand challenge. This book is particularly so for me. I can say without any hint of defensiveness that it’s women’s fiction. Never tried that before. I only did it this time because I think women undervalue themselves in the matter of PTSD. It’s an affliction that owes much of its present attention to our present military commitments. Unfortunately, one can suffer the same issues as a result of financial disruption or family dysfunction or natural disaster. I see the one unifying factor that soothes the pain is the ability of so many women to literally sense the needs of the afflicted. The professionals who tend to our interior damage are magnificent. But my own observations tell me that a man who’s troubled by PTSD has a much better chance of complete rehabilitation if he has access to both. Personally, I’m pretty much convinced that any man lucky enough to have a woman beside him who loves him is already on his way to recovery. I can’t understand it. We don’t articulate our deepest needs with any ability at all, much less skill. Women don’t care. They translate. At best, they simply understand. Whether or not LIGHT THE HIDDEN THINGS establishes the message in the proper story form is what the readership will tell us.

One quick point here. I’ve consistently referred to men in relation to PTSD victimization. That’s because I don’t have enough experience of women suffering the problem to address it with any authority whatsoever. There’s no question they do and there’s no question in my mind that they help each other as effectively as they help their men. Nor do I doubt that many men are as competent as women, when that relationship is the reverse of what I’ve presented in the book. What I’ve done is try to live up to my responsibilities as a story-teller. I’m not in the textbook business, and I’m certainly not messing around with any us-vs.-them war of the sexes hooraw. Being a writer’s crazy enough to suit my needs, thank you.

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3 comments

  1. Don, this is just an FYI: Many years ago, I was a volunteer with a sexual assault clinic. Rape victims have suffered PTSD for thousands of years, but it wasn’t until the military acknowledged its existence that it actually got a name. PTSD isn’t new, only the name, and the acknowledgement and treatment. I await your new book with great anticipation!

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